Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to identifying X-factors to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the Vegas Golden Knights.
Let’s ponder three questions facing the Golden Knights:
1. How will Gerard Gallant manage Marc-Andre Fleury‘s workload?
It has to happen at some point, right? Father Time catching up with Vegas’s beloved second son.
Fleury will be 35 before the season is two months old. He had 61 starts last season and it’s quite likely that he receives just as many this season, barring injury.
It just seems that the team isn’t ready to given Malcolm Subban more work. They used him heavily in March and Fleury got some much-needed rest before the playoffs began, but Subban didn’t set the world on fire with his play.
Finding the right workload will still winning games will be a test for Gallant, who hasn’t been as worried in the past about all the starts Fleury has gotten.
But consider this: only two goalies have ever started 60 games and won a Stanley Cup. Fleury, ironically, was one of them, but that was more than a decade ago now.
2. Can they mitigate some of their losses?
Gusev stands out for the mere fact of the hype train that followed him. The Golden Knights went out of their way to pluck him from the Kontinental Hockey League where he was regarded as one of the best players — if not the best — not playing in the NHL.
Unable to work out a deal that worked under the tight salary cap in Vegas, he was shipped off to the New Jersey Devils.
Speaking of moves relating to the cap, Colin Miller and all his great puck possession skills were traded off to Buffalo in an effort to find cap relief. Miller is an excellent puck-moving defenseman that will be missed on the blue line.
And then there are bottom-six guys in Erik Haula and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Haula’s injury-riddled season limited him to just 15 games. In 2017-18, however, he has 29 goals and 55 points. Bellemare was a solid fourth-liner, meanwhile.
3. Speaking of bottom six, what will that look like?
Alex Tuch had a career year with 20 goals and 32 assists and will be counted on to provide that secondary scoring outside of Vegas’s stacked top two lines.
Where the other pieces fall into place will be decided at training camp, although it’s probably a safe bet that Cody Eakin will center that third line, at least to start. That would allow for Cody Glass to work his way into the NHL fold on as the team’s fourth-line center.
But you probably don’t want Glass, a very skilled prospect, on the same line as Ryan Reaves.